What is the meaning of leased line and what should you consider when choosing your business solution?
For anyone looking to get a new internet connection for their business, there can be a bewildering variety of options. If you don’t have much experience in this area it’s easy to believe that broadband is the only solution available. But when it comes to business use there are alternatives such as leased lines which may offer a better option. So, what is the meaning of leased line and how can one help your business?
What is the meaning of leased line
So just what is a leased line? In simple terms, a leased line is a connection between two points, either your site and the internet, or your head office and a remote site. Unlike normal telephone and broadband connections, you rent a leased line for your exclusive use. The connection is usually made using a fibre Ethernet connection but it can use other technology such as Ethernet first mile carried over copper cables.
The advantages of leased line over broadband are that it delivers better performance with cloud-based applications. This is because you can have the same line speed in both directions – what’s known as a synchronous connection – and there will also be no contention from other businesses or individuals using the link. This means a leased line will maintain its performance levels even at peak times.
Leased line vs broadband
How then is a leased line different from broadband? Most of us are familiar with broadband as we are likely to have it at home. It differs from a leased line in that it becomes a shared connection once it leaves your building. Plus the speeds you can achieve will vary depending on the type of link. The advantages of broadband are that you can get it almost everywhere in the UK. Fibre broadband is available in most places too, and it comes with a lower price tag than a leased line. Broadband is an asynchronous connection – what this means is that downloads are faster than uploads – and because it’s a contended link at peak times of day, performance may suffer as more people are using the connection to download data. You may notice this at home in the evenings when more people are online.
The advantages of broadband are that you can get it almost everywhere in the UK. Fibre broadband is available in most places too, and it comes with a lower price tag than a leased line. Broadband is an asynchronous connection – what this means is that downloads are faster than uploads – and because it’s a contended link at peak times of day, performance may suffer as more people are using the connection to download data. You may notice this at home in the evenings when more people are online.
Fibre broadband is available in most places too, and it comes with a lower price tag than a leased line. Broadband is an asynchronous connection – what this means is that downloads are faster than uploads – and because it’s a contended link at peak times of day, performance may suffer as more people are using the connection to download data. You may notice this at home in the evenings when more people are online.
You might think that broadband is a fairly generic product, but in fact, connections differ because the service can be delivered in different ways. Standard broadband uses the ordinary copper telephone connections from the exchange to your location and therefore delivers the slowest speeds. Distance comes into the equation too, so the further you are away from the local exchange, the slower the connection available to you will be. However, most areas of the country have access to fibre optic broadband, this too isn’t all equal, it comes in two versions.
In the UK the most frequently available option is fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) where the optic fibre terminates at a street cabinet and the final stretch to your premises is carried over existing copper cables. This is faster than all-copper broadband, but because a copper circuit is involved, the performance is going to vary depending on how far you are from the cabinet and therefore how much conventional cable is being used, although the effect will be less noticeable than on an all-copper circuit. Fibre Ethernet leased lines are delivered either to the street cabinet with the circuit completed by copper, or are entirely fibre.
Making the choice
Now we understand what the meaning of leased line is, how do you decide whether this is the right technology for your business. The choice really is determined by how your business is going to use the internet. If your internet demands are only light, tasks such as sending email, surfing the web and perhaps using some cloud storage for backing up files, then a broadband connection – especially a fibre one – may well be sufficient for your needs. But if you work outside of normal office hours, remember that you’ll come up against the issue of contention from lots of other people accessing streaming services, Skyping their friends in Australia and updating their social media pages during the evening. This can happen at other times too, of course, If you’re in an area with many other businesses all accessing the internet, peak contention may well occur during office hours.
Where the difference between leased line and broadband really makes itself felt is if you make more intensive use of the internet for business purposes. As an example, if you’re a heavy user of cloud services for your business systems, then the guaranteed speed of a leased line connection and its equal two-way speed will be a significant advantage.
Leased lines are also about more than just accessing the internet. They can be used where you have branch offices accessing your main office network remotely. High bandwidth communication services like video conferencing or VoIP phone calls may also benefit from using a leased line; again the fact that upload and download speeds are the same is especially valuable.
The way your business operates comes to the fore here too. If you often need to upload sizeable amounts of data – sending documents to printers maybe, or uploading manufacturing specifications or design blueprints – then you’ll get significant benefits from a leased line’s synchronous connection delivering access to equal upload and download speeds.
You also need to give some thought to the number of people who will be using the connection within your organisation. As your business gets bigger and more people need to use the connection, then you need to begin thinking about installing a leased line in preference to broadband. There’s a wider implication too. Should you need to share information on a regular basis with your trade customers and suppliers to build an integrated supply chain, then leased lines will ensure better reliability and help deliver on digital transformation projects. This will ultimately make sure that all users of the system benefit from a better quality of experience while accessing your network. This will benefit productivity overall.
Another key factor to think about is how important systems are to your business. What would the effect be on your operations if you were to lose internet access for a day, or even for a couple of hours? Would it be an inconvenience that you could cope with? Or would you quickly start to lose trade and money? If the latter is the case then a leased line is going to be a better choice thanks to its guaranteed service levels and support that’s geared to meeting the needs of businesses.
It would be remiss of us to get this far without mentioning the drawbacks of leased lines too. There aren’t many but they do matter in the decision making process. A leased line is costlier because you’re paying for a dedicated circuit. They also take longer to install because they will need a new circuit to be installed to your premises rather than using existing phone lines.
Choosing a provider
Having decided that a leased line is the right choice for your company, the selection of a service provider is something you need to think seriously about too. Good suppliers will be able to offer you a tailored service level agreement that meets the requirements of your business and also ensures that you get a reliable service that delivers against your everyday requirements.
In addition, you must look at the skills and technology which the service provider has to offer. How quickly will they be able to address problems, for example, and how much understanding do they have of the technical side of the product? Look for things such as professional accreditations that provide evidence of the skills needed to maintain the connection.
You can check out independent reviews of the service provider too. A reputable supplier will let you speak to existing clients to get a feel for what the company is like to work with and how reliable their services are.
In summary, the key difference between broadband and leased lines comes down to the routing of data from your business to the internet. A leased line connects your offices directly to the internet, whereas broadband routes data over a public network that is used by lots of other people.
There are also some key differences in operation. These relate not only to the speeds available in each direction but also to the number of people that will be sharing the connection at any one time. Which is right for your business will be determined by how you use the internet and how many people work on a particular site. Once you’ve taken all of these things into account, the right choice of circuit for your business should become clear.